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Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . . No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . . No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause--but she soon overcomes her misgivings, warms up her computer, and starts pitching woo on Howard's behalf. To Jaine's surprise, the letter is a success--the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is, sadly, short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master--and is quickly named the prime suspect. Upon hearing the news, Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard's awkward, eccentric, and a tiny bit odd. But a murderer? That's hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing turns up a whole bunch of people who harbored less-than-loving feelings towards the svelte Stacy. But Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on--and puts a whole new spin on her ghost writing career. . . "This book is laugh-out-loud funny. A real winner!" --Laurien Berenson


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Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . . No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter Smarmy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer-for-hire Jaine Austen has penned them all. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free-of-charge--and uncovering more than she bargained for. . . No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause--but she soon overcomes her misgivings, warms up her computer, and starts pitching woo on Howard's behalf. To Jaine's surprise, the letter is a success--the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is, sadly, short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master--and is quickly named the prime suspect. Upon hearing the news, Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard's awkward, eccentric, and a tiny bit odd. But a murderer? That's hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing turns up a whole bunch of people who harbored less-than-loving feelings towards the svelte Stacy. But Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on--and puts a whole new spin on her ghost writing career. . . "This book is laugh-out-loud funny. A real winner!" --Laurien Berenson

30 review for This Pen for Hire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    If I weren't sitting here writing a review of this book, I probably wouldn't even remember I read it this time next year. This piece of fluff is a book I found in the kitchen at my office and when I read Laura Levine's biography notes, I was immediately curious. Ms. Levine's t.v. credits including writing for The Bob Newhart Show, Three's Company and Laverne and Shirley, to name a few. Wondering how a sitcom writer would fare as a mystery novelist, I read this book over the course of four lunch If I weren't sitting here writing a review of this book, I probably wouldn't even remember I read it this time next year. This piece of fluff is a book I found in the kitchen at my office and when I read Laura Levine's biography notes, I was immediately curious. Ms. Levine's t.v. credits including writing for The Bob Newhart Show, Three's Company and Laverne and Shirley, to name a few. Wondering how a sitcom writer would fare as a mystery novelist, I read this book over the course of four lunch breaks. The truth? It wasn't bad and even had a twist that surprised me. Where it fell apart for me was in the main character, Jaine Austen. Jaine is a 30-something divorced woman whose jobs including ghost writing letters for clients and teaching a memoir writing class at a senior center. When she writes a love letter for a man who is later accused of murder, her curiosity gets the better of her and she tries to figure out who really committed the crime. It's a decent set up but my problem with Jaine is that Levine's descriptions of her insecurities are over the top. Jaine comes off as being shallow, self-absorbed and quite frankly like a one-dimensional sitcom character. Granted, that type of character was Levine's stock in trade when she wrote for t.v. but I'm not certain it works for a novel, regardless of how "fluffy" the novel is supposed to be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The minute the heroine explained her name was "Jaine Austen" because her mother loved Jane Austen but couldn't spell, I knew this wasn't a mystery for me. I think I actually groaned. But I waited months for this one so I figured should at least finish it. Unfortunately, it did not improve much. Guessed the murderer (though admittedly not the motive) immediately and spent the rest of the book bored. Jaine likes eating, mocking skinny people, and drinking margaritas. Oh, and whining about her lack The minute the heroine explained her name was "Jaine Austen" because her mother loved Jane Austen but couldn't spell, I knew this wasn't a mystery for me. I think I actually groaned. But I waited months for this one so I figured should at least finish it. Unfortunately, it did not improve much. Guessed the murderer (though admittedly not the motive) immediately and spent the rest of the book bored. Jaine likes eating, mocking skinny people, and drinking margaritas. Oh, and whining about her lack of love life. Her motivation for solving the mystery made no sense. Some potential here but I fail to see what makes this one such a popular cozy mystery.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    I was sad to find myself unable to enjoy this. As protagonists go, I was kind of looking forward to a gun for hire writer type who stumbled into mystery situations. Sadly, I just wasn't engaged by this story. Most of that is on Jane (the protagonist). She's kind of prickly, more obsequious than nice, and kind of an idiot. She came off as a caricature of her premise and that just didn't do it for me. It didn't help that Levine took the stereotype as an easy out every chance she got (well, in the fi I was sad to find myself unable to enjoy this. As protagonists go, I was kind of looking forward to a gun for hire writer type who stumbled into mystery situations. Sadly, I just wasn't engaged by this story. Most of that is on Jane (the protagonist). She's kind of prickly, more obsequious than nice, and kind of an idiot. She came off as a caricature of her premise and that just didn't do it for me. It didn't help that Levine took the stereotype as an easy out every chance she got (well, in the first six chapters, anyway). From the lecherous old student in her volunteer class to the arresting officer in the central mystery, there wasn't a single element that stepped outside of what you'd get if it were written by a committee. And that happened over and over again. I was sad this didn't pan out, as it's a longish series that I thought had potential...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Reading on the train is not usually a problem, except when you are chuckling out loud and people are wondering what's wrong with you. Laura Levine's book is a most amusing mystery filled with lots of funny one-liners. The mystery is good and the book just lets you delve into Jaine's world. It is worth the read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luffy

    From the very start to the last sentence, This Pen For Hire kept me on my toes. It was flawless overall. I cannot praise this book highly enough. I'm usually very careful with my rating system and all the books that get a perfect score need to go that extra mile to get 5 stars. The pacing was wonderful in This Pen For Hire. There was no surplus padding, only lean muscle through and through. I could understand most of the jokes. The latter dried up after halfway through but by then things were g From the very start to the last sentence, This Pen For Hire kept me on my toes. It was flawless overall. I cannot praise this book highly enough. I'm usually very careful with my rating system and all the books that get a perfect score need to go that extra mile to get 5 stars. The pacing was wonderful in This Pen For Hire. There was no surplus padding, only lean muscle through and through. I could understand most of the jokes. The latter dried up after halfway through but by then things were getting serious anyway. The only person I suspected turned out to be the culprit and I still was shocked. Wonderful book, can't stress that enough. I can't imagine how the second book in the series is going to live up to the first. The only predictable thing would be that the showdown will certainly have to occur at any place other than Jaine's house because of Lance's x-ray hearing. No unread book is guaranteed to be good and I do hope against hope that the series would find a new follower in me and make of me a lifelong fan of Laura Levine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marguerite Kaye

    I really enjoyed this. It was fun, fast and witty. I had never heard of Jaine Austen, the PI/writer in it, until I saw a review of a later book on SuperWendy's blog, and I'm really pleased to have discovered a whole new series. I read this in two gulps. It doesn't matter that I guessed whodunit, that wasn't the point. Fave line - 'He claimed he was writing the great America novel, it turned out to be the great American paragraph.' So pleased to have found Jaine, and I know it won't be long befor I really enjoyed this. It was fun, fast and witty. I had never heard of Jaine Austen, the PI/writer in it, until I saw a review of a later book on SuperWendy's blog, and I'm really pleased to have discovered a whole new series. I read this in two gulps. It doesn't matter that I guessed whodunit, that wasn't the point. Fave line - 'He claimed he was writing the great America novel, it turned out to be the great American paragraph.' So pleased to have found Jaine, and I know it won't be long before I read the next one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I love Jaine Austen her mother is an Anglophile, and a bad speller , she’s funny, smart, a smart ass and a writer. The setting is great, L.A. and it feels like L.A. A famous philosopher (either Aristotle or Judith Krantz, I forget who) once said about being a woman in Los Angeles: If you’re blonde and beautiful, you’re interchangeable. If you’re not, you’re invisible. Jaine quotes that immortal character But in the words of that wise old philosopher, Bullwinkle J. Moose, things aren’t alway ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I love Jaine Austen her mother is an Anglophile, and a bad speller , she’s funny, smart, a smart ass and a writer. The setting is great, L.A. and it feels like L.A. A famous philosopher (either Aristotle or Judith Krantz, I forget who) once said about being a woman in Los Angeles: If you’re blonde and beautiful, you’re interchangeable. If you’re not, you’re invisible. Jaine quotes that immortal character But in the words of that wise old philosopher, Bullwinkle J. Moose, things aren’t always what they seem in Frostbite Falls. and with all the jokes and wisecracks she solves the case because as I mentioned before Jaine is smart. Jaine also has a wonderful cat named Prozac So I grabbed her cat carrier from the hall closet. Which was, of course, a fatal mistake. The minute she saw it, she undoubtedly thought, “Uh-oh, another trip to that irritating veterinarian who keeps sticking thermometers up my butt.” Thanks to a great review from Luffy one of my goodreads friends. I decide to give this rather low rated book a chance. Thanks so much Luffy it’s just as good as you said it was. Cozies Reading Challenge

  8. 5 out of 5

    Denise Rodgers

    I am currently reading this book for the second time---the advantage of having all my books on my Nook! The voice of the main character is engaging and self-deprecating, but not to the point of being annoying. This is the book where we meet Jaine Austin, freelance writer-for-hire. She becomes involved in a murder mystery when one of her particularly pathetic clients is accused of murder. He hired Jaine to write a letter to get him a date---and said date is found bludgeoned to death with her thig I am currently reading this book for the second time---the advantage of having all my books on my Nook! The voice of the main character is engaging and self-deprecating, but not to the point of being annoying. This is the book where we meet Jaine Austin, freelance writer-for-hire. She becomes involved in a murder mystery when one of her particularly pathetic clients is accused of murder. He hired Jaine to write a letter to get him a date---and said date is found bludgeoned to death with her thigh master, and the poor dateless client is found on the scene. Jaine is convinced of his innocence. While we want to know who dunnit, that is not entirely the point. It is fun to get into the head of the main character, Jaine, as she pushes beyond her usual boundaries and gets involved in a murder investigation. The book is more of a fun romp than a serious exercise in literature. But that is the point, I believe, and Laura Levine gives us a fun romp indeed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    First time reader of this author. I enjoyed it. Prozac reminds me so much of my cat. I'm going to read the other books!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    A screwball, humorous, and light cozy mystery.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trina (aNovelReader)

    A murder happens at Melrose Place and Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore show solves the case. Definitely written by a sitcom writer but it was very entertaining. A few odd/poor word descriptions of the female body that didn't fit in at all turning this mystery from PG to PG-13 thus the 3-star rating.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nairabell

    Jaine Austen (no relation) is a freelance writer who spends most of her time writing promotional mailers and leaflets for various companies. When geeky Howard Murdoch approaches her to write a love letter, and then admits he's never even spoken to the object of his affections, Jaine relucantantly agrees to help. To Jaine's surprise her letter works and wins Howard a date with the gorgeous aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence. But the next thing she knows Stacy is found bludgeoned to death with a T Jaine Austen (no relation) is a freelance writer who spends most of her time writing promotional mailers and leaflets for various companies. When geeky Howard Murdoch approaches her to write a love letter, and then admits he's never even spoken to the object of his affections, Jaine relucantantly agrees to help. To Jaine's surprise her letter works and wins Howard a date with the gorgeous aerobics instructor Stacy Lawrence. But the next thing she knows Stacy is found bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master, and Howard is arrested. Jaine is sure he didn't do it and, with the police sure he did, she decides to investigate. I'd noticed a story by Laura Levine in an anthology (Candy Cane Murder) but as I brought the book for the Joanne Fluke story I'd never bothered reading it. After hearing Laura's praises sung I decided to give her writing a shot with the first in the Jaine Austen series. I'm really glad I did. The plot is great - full of twists and turns, with a few red herrings thrown in. It isn't as cozy as most cozy mysteries as it's more self-aware and sex is mentioned quite frequently, but I loved it. The mystery was well thought out, with loads of possible suspects and a killer I didn't manage to figure out in advance. Having the book set in L.A. also meant that this wasn't a small-town setting so Jaine had to go out to a variety of places to snoop. I liked Jaine and her snarky sense of humour, and she was also believable in how and why she investigated Stacy's death. The possible romantic interest Cameron was well developed without taking over the storyline, although Detective Rea was a little underdeveloped. I loved the wider cast of characters, from the residents at the Shalom Retirement Home where Jaine teaches a memoir class to the potential suspects she investigates. All in all this was a great read, and I'll be looking to pick up a copy of Last Writes (the second book in the series). Plot: 10/10 Characters: 9/10 Ending: 10/10 Enjoyment: 9/10 Cover: 8/10 Overall: 46/50

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I'm not completely against this book - I just thought it average. This is progress (or maybe its reverse), since a year ago I would have thrown a book at the wall whose heroine was as silly as this one. I guess as I grow older my patience for silliness increases. I felt kind of sad for Jaine though. First, she's stuck with a terrible name. Second, she acts like she's 18 when she's really 36. Third, she's so transparently desperate for a man in her life while maintaining that she's immune that it I'm not completely against this book - I just thought it average. This is progress (or maybe its reverse), since a year ago I would have thrown a book at the wall whose heroine was as silly as this one. I guess as I grow older my patience for silliness increases. I felt kind of sad for Jaine though. First, she's stuck with a terrible name. Second, she acts like she's 18 when she's really 36. Third, she's so transparently desperate for a man in her life while maintaining that she's immune that it's pitiable. Eh. Anyway, the murder mystery is not much of a one. The killer is someone who the heroine does not suspect (as per usual) that the reader knows immediately who it is. There are red herrings galore, and a mildly different motive. It's ok. I guess I'll read #2 to see if it improves. 2 stars for this one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine (KizzieReads)

    This was hilarious! If you like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich you will love this. She is a bumbling freelance writer who writes a letter for someone so they could get a date and he ends up arrested for murder and Jaine knows he couldn't possibly be the murderer. She feels guilty about being the one who wrote the letter and so she tries to solve the murder and get Howard out if jail. It is slapstick funny. Can't wait to read the nezt one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brie

    Cute, fluffy and funny. Somewhat on par with Stephanie Plum, but so far without the romance or even fictional eye-candy to ogle. Hopefully within the next couple of books or I'll probably push these all to the backburner.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A very good book, but I lost interest. I literally set this book down when I was half way through and read another books, but I picked it back up this morning and I enjoyed the ending. So, because I lost interest, I'm only giving this 3 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    FangirlNation

    Jaine Austen makes a living ghost-writing anything from company brochures and personal ads to radio jingles and love letters in This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine. One day she gets a client, Howard Murdoch, who begs her to write a love letter for him to Stacy Lawrence, a girl he has worshipped from afar but always been too afraid to approach . Will Jaine write a letter in which she gets him a date with the lovely Stacy? Reluctantly, Jaine agrees, and Howard has what is probably the first date in Jaine Austen makes a living ghost-writing anything from company brochures and personal ads to radio jingles and love letters in This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine. One day she gets a client, Howard Murdoch, who begs her to write a love letter for him to Stacy Lawrence, a girl he has worshipped from afar but always been too afraid to approach . Will Jaine write a letter in which she gets him a date with the lovely Stacy? Reluctantly, Jaine agrees, and Howard has what is probably the first date in his life set for Valentine’s Day. Read the rest of this review and other fun, geeky articles at Fangirl Nation

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Cornelius Ashby

    I enjoyed the book. The protagonist has a great sense of humor throughout the story. I love her cat. He has an awesome personality which lends more humor to the book. I would love to see more interaction with the cat throughout the book. Overall, it’s a good cozy mystery. I will co to he the series.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peggy R

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. It was a cute start to a series with a lot of humor and good writing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    This Pen For Hire, was laugh out loud funny.I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maureen DeLuca

    As far as 'cozies' go- this was a good read- when I'm tired of the psycho, insane, stalker, killer books and need a break... will most definitely pick up the second book in this series!

  22. 4 out of 5

    C.

    Only made it to page 98. Unlikeable characters, and not engaging.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The book that started it all! I read book #12 of this series first by accident, picking it up at the library without realizing that it was part of a series. Then I went back and tried to find the others, as much in order as I could, to catch up. While the Jaine Austen mystery books can certainly be read in any order, it was interesting to see the "roots" of the characters by finally reading the very first book. Laura Levine's heroine, Jaine Austen (not relation!) is a writer who keeps stumbling i The book that started it all! I read book #12 of this series first by accident, picking it up at the library without realizing that it was part of a series. Then I went back and tried to find the others, as much in order as I could, to catch up. While the Jaine Austen mystery books can certainly be read in any order, it was interesting to see the "roots" of the characters by finally reading the very first book. Laura Levine's heroine, Jaine Austen (not relation!) is a writer who keeps stumbling into dead bodies. A little bored with writing ads for the likes of Toiletmasters and the Mattress King, Jaine decides that she likes the excitement of solving murders. Jaine is a "real" person, with difficult hair, a tummy and tush to much her appetite for non-salad food, and a cat named Prozac firmly entrenched as the "significant other" in her life. I could be friends with her. :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This Pen for Hire is the first book in the new series by Laura Levine call A Jaine Austen Mystery. Jaine Austen enjoys writing personal ads for people until one of her client's friends died. Jaine's client Howard Murdoch became the prime suspect. Jaine did not believe the police and start to investigate. The readers of This Pen for Hire will continue to follow Jaine to find out what happens. This Pen for Hire is the first book I have read of Laura Levine. This Pen for Hire is a funny and enjoyabl This Pen for Hire is the first book in the new series by Laura Levine call A Jaine Austen Mystery. Jaine Austen enjoys writing personal ads for people until one of her client's friends died. Jaine's client Howard Murdoch became the prime suspect. Jaine did not believe the police and start to investigate. The readers of This Pen for Hire will continue to follow Jaine to find out what happens. This Pen for Hire is the first book I have read of Laura Levine. This Pen for Hire is a funny and enjoyable book to read. I love Laura Levine portrayal of her characters and the way they interact with each other throughout this book. This Pen for Hire is well written and researched by Laura Levine. The description of the settings of This Pen for Hire is excellently done by Laura Levine. The readers of This Pen for Hire will start to learn about the role of a ghostwriter. Also, the reader of This Pen for Hire will have trouble to stop laughing with some of the things that Jaine Austen got up to throughout this book. I recommend this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    I received this book as prize from a give away on Goodreads. It is a story about Jaine Austin, a freelance writer, who pens brochures and advertisements for clients. She is hired by a nerdy man who is in love with an unattainable match to write a love letter. He is later arrested for the murder of the letter recipient. Jaine feels it is her responsibility to get him off the hook. There are a few plot twists and LOTS of corny one liners designed to make the reader laugh their way through the book I received this book as prize from a give away on Goodreads. It is a story about Jaine Austin, a freelance writer, who pens brochures and advertisements for clients. She is hired by a nerdy man who is in love with an unattainable match to write a love letter. He is later arrested for the murder of the letter recipient. Jaine feels it is her responsibility to get him off the hook. There are a few plot twists and LOTS of corny one liners designed to make the reader laugh their way through the book. While it was not the style of book I normally read, I will be passing this book onto a friend who loves cozy mysteries.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    This book was really hard for me to rate. If this cozy is compared to other types of books it would definitely need a few less stars but the first thing I thought after finishing was "this was a fun book." It could have done without so much romance talk but her sense of humor is on spot and I like her.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Huber

    Cute and light cozy mystery with a fun setting. Love that the sleuth is a copywriter in Los Angeles. Humorous too. I wish our lead protagonist was a little more cosmopolitan, however. Her constant mishaps and addiction to snacking makes her seem a bit more uncouth than I was expecting but all in all a very well written book that's fun, light and engaging. One of the better cozies I have read this year.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Boas

    If you like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich then you’ll like this! "This Pen for Hire" is book 1 in the Jaine Austen murder mystery series by Laura Levine. It’s got tons of early 2000s references (Jennifer Aniston, Seinfeld, Ally McBeal, etc) and unlike other cozies it’s not set in a small town - it’s set in Beverly Hills where apparently men are scarce, everyone has sex on the brain, paying rent is top priority, and feminism was a whole lot different. It’s pretty funny and shorter If you like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich then you’ll like this! "This Pen for Hire" is book 1 in the Jaine Austen murder mystery series by Laura Levine. It’s got tons of early 2000s references (Jennifer Aniston, Seinfeld, Ally McBeal, etc) and unlike other cozies it’s not set in a small town - it’s set in Beverly Hills where apparently men are scarce, everyone has sex on the brain, paying rent is top priority, and feminism was a whole lot different. It’s pretty funny and shorter than most modern day cozies (only 218 pages). As I was reading I found myself wondering if (at 31) I’m the last generation that can appreciate the references in this book? My Millenial ideals regarding feminism are really different than those portrayed in this book but it didn't less my reading experience - it just made me analyze how far as a gender we've come. Jaine reads as fairly desperate - for a date, for a sex life, for work - all while obsessing about her weight, her bills, her future - and it just made me kind of sad. I've never emotionally or mentally been in the same boat in regards to feeling desperate - but I can't help but think that this is the author's interpretation of what a "cool chick" would think like. And hey, maybe in the early 2000s that was accurate? But if anything, reading about a sleuth so different from yourself - makes it more of an escape. And the writing itself was quippy, fast-paced, full of easy humor, with a solid mystery and plenty of red herrings. And it was certainly sexy, so if you like a more mature cozy that's not quite so PG then you're in for a good time. Ultimately, I look forward to reading book 2 and I give this book 5 stars. More Facts for Readers about our Sleuth: Main Sleuth: Jaine Austen (age 36) Physical Description: White female, curvy, brown curly hair Best friend: Kandi Tobolowski Location: Beverly Hills, California Time of Year: February Business: writer for hire, company called "This Pen for Hire" Pet: 1 cat named Prozac Love Interest: Cameron Bannick (blue eyed white guy) Family: Mom Cussing? Yes Diversity? Yes and No. This book was written in the early 2000s before a time of "wokeness" so while the main sleuth is a white female who seems liberal and open-minded she is also self aware of her own stereotypical ways of thinking. She mentions attraction to Antonio Banderas and a makes kind remarks about handsome Hispanic men she notices... but there's also a scene where she hurries out of an elevator with a black man because he looks "like a mugger" and it turns out he's a really nice doctor. But she calls herself out and chastises herself and her actions. It's the stereotypical "fear of black men" trope and yet the author is calling attention to this line of thinking as if to point out its inappropriateness. But there's also stereotypical Russian and Jewish characters - again, not really referred to negatively, but it's this sort of thinking and writing that modern writer's are moving away from - the whole putting entire groups of people in a box thing. Know what I mean?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helen Power

    This Pen for Hire is a quick, light and fluffy read that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. The premise is silly, and the mystery is quite predictable, but the attraction of this book is primarily the comical writing style. I greatly enjoy books where the main character almost compulsively tells lies, and in this aspect, Laura Levine does not disappoint. As Jaine Austen, the pen for hire, goes about attempting to uncover who the murderer is, she masquerades as a New York Times rep This Pen for Hire is a quick, light and fluffy read that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. The premise is silly, and the mystery is quite predictable, but the attraction of this book is primarily the comical writing style. I greatly enjoy books where the main character almost compulsively tells lies, and in this aspect, Laura Levine does not disappoint. As Jaine Austen, the pen for hire, goes about attempting to uncover who the murderer is, she masquerades as a New York Times reporter and as a lawyer. It was quite humorous, but I would have liked to have seen more consequences from these lies. (view spoiler)[ For example, Jaine tells Howard, the pathetic prime suspect, that she’s engaged so she can avoid dating him. It was never mentioned again, but it would have been funny if this fib had come back to bite her in the ass. (i.e. Howard could have mentioned this to Cameron, her love interest, who would have been immediately downtrodden by the news, breaking off their dinner date). (hide spoiler)] As hilarious as Jaine Austen and her cat, Prozac, are, I also would have liked to have seen stronger side characters. Lance is little more than a caricature of the typical nosy neighbour, and he’s the most well fleshed-out secondary character. I also wasn’t compelled by the romance, which is typically a highlight for these types of light reads. All in all, this got 4 stars because it’s a quick read and it had me giggling on the train like a crazy person.

  30. 4 out of 5

    TheGeekyBlogger

    Read for Fun! Overall Rating: 3.75 Story Rating: 3.50 Character Rating: 4.00 First Thought When Finished: What a fun read! What I Loved: Note to self: don't write love letters for others unless you want to be in the middle of a very fun mystery. Jaine Austen was such a cute character. She was sassy, fun, and kind of a mess. Her dating life sucks. Her career is a little unusual. Her neighbor is nosy. Her best friend was a total riot. All in all she was just fun to watch stumble through things. She was Read for Fun! Overall Rating: 3.75 Story Rating: 3.50 Character Rating: 4.00 First Thought When Finished: What a fun read! What I Loved: Note to self: don't write love letters for others unless you want to be in the middle of a very fun mystery. Jaine Austen was such a cute character. She was sassy, fun, and kind of a mess. Her dating life sucks. Her career is a little unusual. Her neighbor is nosy. Her best friend was a total riot. All in all she was just fun to watch stumble through things. She was a hot mess as she tried to figure out how to get a nerdy client that she wrote a love letter for out of jail. It was just downright fun! What I Liked: The mystery was quirky and fun. Though it wasn't hard to figure out who was guilty. I find that is pretty much standard in cozy mysteries. It was fun to unravel the case through Jaine's eyes. There were a few twists and turns with the characters that I thought were really well done. What made me go huh?: I wanted a little more of the detective in the story though I think we will see more of him in the future. I also wanted more of her best friend--she was a riot! Final Thought: This is a perfect summer afternoon cozy mystery read!

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